So much goes on in the kitchen that the floor needs to stand up to a lot of use and abuse. Wood is warm and beautiful, but tile is tough and resilient and vinyl is so easy to clean … the choices for kitchen flooring are almost endless.

To help cut through the chatter, homeowners should answer a few questions to determine which flooring option best suits their lifestyle:

  • Is there a lot of cooking?
  • Was the home designed with an open floor plan or is the kitchen a little more isolated?
  • Is low- or no-maintenance a priority?
  • Is environmentally-friendly materials important?
  • What is the budget?

Hardwood – up to $20/square foot installed

Warm, beautiful and timeless, hardwood can stand up to some serious traffic, but it’s also susceptible to contraction and expansion because of the amount of moisture generated by cooking. Hardwood is a great flooring choice in open-floor plan homes because it ties the living spaces together seamlessly.

Tile – up to $30/square foot installed.

Ceramic and porcelain tile are the workhorses of flooring, especially in the kitchen. Both materials hold their looks for years (with proper care) and provide one of the most durable surfaces available in such a variety of colors, patterns and textures – including the look of wood! – it’s almost impossible to not find a tile that will work in a kitchen.

Cork – up to $20/square foot installed

Cooking can often involve hours of standing and moving around, so flooring that is both durable and kind to joints like knees and backs might be the right choice. Cork fills the bill on both counts, and it’s eco-friendly because it’s harvested every eight to 10 years from trees that regrow their bark.

Vinyl – up to $10/square foot installed

If the kitchen is the heart and stomach of the home, vinyl might the perfect flooring choice. Not only is it extremely durable – waterproof and almost maintenance-free – vinyl is also the least expensive flooring choice, which can be important if budget is an issue. Color, pattern and texture choices are also almost unlimited so finding the right vinyl is a snap.